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Attack of the Shaky-Cams in Battle: Los Angeles

The shaky-cam is coming, the shaky-cam is coming! Jonathan Liebesman directs his alien-invasion saga Battle: Los Angeles as if he were having a violent seizure, wedding whiplash faux-war-documentary aesthetics to a Michael Bay cocktail of ooh-rah military romanticism, quick-stroke melodrama, and seesawing CG mayhem. Called into duty after news reports of extraterrestrial warfare devour the airwaves, a John Wayne–type staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart)—on the eve of retirement and in search of redemption—leads a Marine squad into laser-demolished downtown L.A. to evacuate civilians. As they proceed block by invader-infested block, their mission suggests Iraq/Afghanistan parallels that are overwhelmed by bludgeoning cacophony (including a few brumfs! borrowed from Inception) and visual incoherence. Matching the indistinctness of the human protagonists, whose pre-conflict intros fail to establish empathy for their future up-a-creek circumstances, the film’s mushroom-headed bio-mech invaders prove a featureless bunch out to steal the planet’s water supply. Not a single arresting image is found amid the sci-fi rubble, though unintentional laughs eventually arrive courtesy of a cornball motivational speech by Eckhart’s hero that he then immediately dismisses with, “None of that matters right now.” Ultimately, it’s not clear what’s more nauseating: the Tilt-a-Wheel cinematography, the shameless second-act bid for weepy-child bathos, or the suggestion of an inevitable sequel.

 
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5 comments
Beplo08
Beplo08

Nick Schager must be missing his frontal lobe. This is a fun popcorn movie, Remember thoseNick? Or isn't it "Social Relevant enough" to get your approval. You just hates Marines orany cinematic depiction of the military. Now, if it was movie about Gay Aliens Nick wouldgive it 5 stars. Nick your socially irrelevant.

Michealglass96
Michealglass96

hi im very glad to go swimming now because im better

Chris Hunt
Chris Hunt

Despite the use of the ubiquitous shaky-cam, this movie is much better than described here. It's good because it's entertaining. It's entertaining because the Marines are the good guys. I'm fairly certain that is the reason for the terrible reviews this film is getting.

Have you noticed that the anti-war films made recently have all tanked? I will be very interested to see if this film continues its box office performance. If Hollywood was really interested in only money, they could make more by showing our armed forces in a positive light.

I find the complaints about this film resembling a WWII movie very revealing. Heaven forbid our troops are depicted as acting honorably, or (gasp!) heroically. The most telling moment was when Sgt. Nance sees the aliens retreating and orders his few troops to advance. If you know anything about our military history or the Marine Corps, this was not a shock.

I wonder if the critics who despise it have noticed the allegorical elements? If they haven't, then they weren't really paying attention. If they have and don't talk about it, then that says more about them than the film.

Sean Harper
Sean Harper

Indeed. I'm usually one to forgive poor writing or film gimmicks (3D can be fun and cloverfield was a blast). However, my fondness for theatrical gimmicks can only be tested so far. When I discuss this movie with anyone I am met with a bold defensiveness usually telling me that "It was an actual war!" Or "They wanted to make it as realistic as possible." I understand that. Unfortunately the poorly designed Aliens and the constant laughable dialogue just made it impossible to ever feel like this was anything other than a movie trying to feel real.

They are fighting Aliens in Los Angelis. Overall I felt this film would have been much better if they had used a different camera style and played more with the sense of played movie realism rather than "WOAH! YOU'RE ACTUALLY IN A WAR!"

Good attempt, bad delivery.

 

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